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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Beer Goggles for Your Brain
12 June 2013 5:25 pm
Hot? Or not? The lightning-quick spark that triggers desire when you see an attractive face is kindled within a deep brain region called the ventral midbrain, associated with processing reward. Now, researchers have discovered a way to stoke that fire with 2 milliamps of electrical current. Using a technique called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which passes current through the brain between two electrodes on the scalp, the team asked 19 volunteers to rate the attractiveness of two sets of computer-generated male and female Caucasian faces with neutral expressions (examples above) before and after the activity in their ventral midbrains ramped up. A control group did the same, while receiving "sham" electrical stimulation that produced a tingling sensation but no real current. Compared with the control group, the volunteers who received tDCS rated the second set of faces as significantly more attractive on a eight-point scale than the first set, the scientists report online this week in Translational Psychiatry. The researchers are not proposing that we use their discovery to bewitch prospective lovers, however. Rather, they say their newfound ability to manipulate a deep region of the brain without drugs or an invasive surgery suggests that similar techniques could be used to treat disorders associated with faulty ventral midbrain circuitry, such as Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia.
See more ScienceShots.